Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Tale of Stinging Wasps, Rockets, Explosives and …

Many years ago in Miami… Starting at about the age of 12, I started making my own fireworks. This was a more innocent and carefree time, where going to the local Drugstore and purchasing the ingredients for making gunpowder was neither frowned upon nor, deemed a devilish deed. The group of friends I hung out with were use to chasing my model rockets that I custom built. Some of these rockets were successfully launched in the large field next to my house, and some simply exploded upon the launch pad. When I mixed various metal powders in my fuel, some of these rockets exploded with wondrous color.

One fine day, when I was about 14, my friend Armando (who lived across the street) wanted my help in getting rid of some wasps which had built a nest in the hollow T support of their outdoor clothes line. This was simply a 3 foot horizontal tube on top of a 6 foot vertical support tube. Another such structure was about 12 feet down the yard, with the hanging wires running between the supports, end to end. This end of the support was about 6 feet from the kitchen window and Armando feared the wasps might thus fly into the window when opened.

When Armando approached me for help, I was in the middle of working on a new batch of rocket propellant – an idea immediately came to mind… We could tape both ends of the tube shut – with one end containing a small bag of homemade rocket fuel. Thus, the wasps would be trapped in the tube, and when lit, the rocket fuel would explode in a small flash and kill all the wasps. BTW, these were a particularly aggressive type of local South Florida variety of wasp.

We set the plan in motion. Armando approached the right side of the tube (which was about 6 feet from the kitchen window) and was ready with a large piece of wide packaging tape. I simultaneously approached the left side of the tube with an identical piece of tape, plus a large wad of rocket fuel wrapped up in tape, and containing a long fuse. One… two…three… Armando quickly slapped his piece of tape over his end and I simultaneously, snugly pushed the wad of explosives into the tube and quickly sealed it further with tape – the end of the fuse was sticking out and thus, quickly lit…

Armando’s sister was in the kitchen washing dishes at the time. The window was cranked wide open – however, the screen was shut. Just then, she came closer to the window to see what we were doing.


It is interesting to note that a wasp nest full of afternoon wasps can be fired like Shotgun ammo completely through a screen window and splatter someone in the chest with a gooey, singed mass. Luckily, no one was hurt – except for a colony of wasps. Don’t try this at home!

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